Shaquille O’Neal on Making Affordable Shoes: ‘As a 49-Year-Old Man, I’d Have Felt Ashamed Selling My Babies Shoes for $160, $180, $200’

Published 11/30/2021, 11:03 PM EST
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 09: NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal attends the grand opening of Shaquille’s At L.A. Live at LA Live on March 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)


Shaquille O’Neal is one athlete that isn’t just focused on making big bucks but wants to help the community while he is doing it. However, this moral epiphany didn’t just come to him one day, it was a woman outside the Orlando Magic arena, who brutally reminded Shaq of how unreasonable he was being while selling his sneakers. It’s an incident that stuck with him, and if it weren’t for that, Shaq might have continued down the path that most NBA players are going.

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What happened outside the Orlando arena?

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 18: Shaquille O’Neal arrives ahead of the 2018 NBA All-Star Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on February 18, 2018. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Shaq earned quite a lot as a professional basketball player. However, the ventures that he has dipped his toes in off the court have made him an even richer man. And like most players, being a sneakerhead, he also had his own shoes selling like hotcakes. However, the problem was that they weren’t nearly as budget-friendly as they should have been. And this realization came to him, thanks to this lady.

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In the ‘Full Send’ Podcast, Shaq revealed that one day he was outside the Orlando arena when a woman chose to confront him about his overpriced sneakers. In fact, she was brutal and made the former NBA player think about making shoes for children more affordable.

So, he turned down his lucrative $40 million deal with Reebok and instead chose to start off his own brand. A brand that would sell sneakers to a different market niche, and for a meager $19-$29 only.

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Did Shaquille O’Neal ever hear from the woman again?

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This was a big change in O’Neal’s business plan. So, in his most recent Sneaker shopping with Complex, he was asked about the woman and whether he is in touch with her or not. “No, no no..,” Shaq answered. “But everything happens for a reason. I think it was a blessing in disguise. She was right. We shouldn’t be charging these babies over $100, $200, $250. The babies that are wearing them, can’t afford them.”

Shaq expressed that he takes extreme pride in selling his shoes, and he doesn’t want to mock the others for doing it the other way. However, he also said, “Personally, as a 49-year-old man, I felt ashamed selling my babies shoes $160, $180, $200. I know a lot of kids get teased for wearing my shoes. But if you look at my shoes, they don’t look like they cost $29 and I take pride in that.”

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O’Neal’s humble nature helped him truly understand the struggle of the average man. It’s these little compromises and changes that one can work on, to make the world a little better. And if Shaq can do it, so can the others. Don’t you think?

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Yashima Bhatia

1803 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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